Listen to Dr. Copper

February 13, 2017 Off By Chuck

Scanning as many charts as I do, quite frequently there are “themes” that arise. One that continues to present itself since the Trump win is that of inflation. Interest rates have risen as are commodity prices and their related stocks. When you speak of inflation its always prudent to check in with Dr. Copper. Why? Because it is reputed to have a Ph.D. in economics because of its ability to predict turning points in the global economy. Because of copper’s widespread applications in most sectors of the economy – from homes and factories, to electronics and power generation and transmission – demand for copper is often viewed as a reliable leading indicator of economic health. This demand is reflected in the market price of copper. Generally, rising copper prices suggest strong copper demand and hence a growing global economy,

As you can see in the 5-year chart of the price of copper below, price bottomed at the beginning of 2015 and formed a divergent momentum low which warned the extensive multi-year downtrend may be coming to an end. As typically occurs after a bottom, price chopped around for more than a year, trading within a tight 35 cent range and formed a symmetrical triangle. The week before the election it broke out to the upside on slightly higher than average volume. With triangles you always have to be concerned whether the breakout will turn out to be a fake out since they are so unreliable. The answer to that question came the following week (and Trump was elected) as it had its greatest weekly rise over the past 5 years on enormous volume.

Since that breakout and while the bulls caught their breath, price consolidated, successfully back-tested its (red) support/resistance line and appears to have broken out last week.

The chart is staying the short to intermediate term copper prices are likely higher and has the room to move potentially significantly higher if the trend continues.  Those not having futures accounts have limited investments to capitalize on this potential move. There is one ETN (JJC) that attempts to mirror its price but it is fairly illiquid and as with all ETNs has inherent contango issues. A better bet would be to look at the copper miners/producers as they typically do as well as, if not better than, the ETN in tracking its price. Keep in mind though, while prices do move in directional lockstep, they are a leveraged play and move significantly greater (both up and down) on a percentage basis than the base metals price.